James Maddison has scored 21 goals in 99 Premier League games
James Maddison, who deviates left from midfield at Etihad Stadium, holds his run. He checks his surroundings and knows he is in space before collecting the ball and heading for the goal.
Manchester City defenders fearfully withdraw and are already shocked to see their early lead wane after conceding three goals on either side of the half. But they only invited more misery. Maddison approaches, opens his body, and shoots a hefty shot past a helpless Ederson.
It was September 27, 2020 and Leicester inflicted a 5-2 defeat on Pep Guardiola. his worst home game since arriving in the Premier League.
Jamie Vardy had scored a hat trick, but Maddison’s goal – his first since January this year – got everyone talking. In addition to Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, he was talking about a place as a playmaker in the English EM squad.
Things have changed since then. The 24-year-old has lost shape and was severely handicapped by a hip injury that interrupted his run for the summer. Leicester won the FA Cup, in the final against Chelsea 1-0 but Maddison’s fitness limited him to a cameo at Wembley.
Injuries weren’t the only problem; the harsh reality was that by the end of the season he had fallen well behind Grealish and Foden. The Foxes’ failure to secure a spot in the Champions League – despite being in the top four for most of the season – was a devastating blow. When Gareth Southgate named his English squad for the European Championship and Maddison wasn’t there, there was no wave of resistance. It was the same on Thursday when he was left out by the 25-man party for next month’s World Cup qualification.
“Grealish is miles ahead of him”
James Maddison was on the side of Jack Grealish in talks for a place in the English European Championship squad before he sustained a hip injury
While Foden was often seen as the link in the attack arc at City, Maddison and Grealish, who has since moved from Aston Villa to Premier League champions, were considered the most important creative forces in their respective teams.
According to Opta, Maddison’s performance not only lagged behind the two potential English rivals, but also lagged behind his own two seasons earlier. Although he only played five league games less than 2018/19, he gave his teammates 51 chances last season versus 100 this season. His dribbling degree fell from 61.7% to 54.7, while his dribbling attempts dropped to 55 from 88.
Foden scored nine goals and five assists in 17 Premier League starts in the 2020/21 season; Maddison scored one goal less but provided the same number of assists after starting seven more games. Grealish scored six goals and scored the most goals (10) and chances (81) despite only making 26 league games, the least of three.
In a speech on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club show on August 9, Premier League winner Chris Sutton crushed Maddison’s form.
“I thought he was having a really bad season by his standards and I thought he let Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers down,” said Sutton. “There was a game towards the end of the season at West Ham where he was from celebrating; he wasn’t the only one.
“Leicester lost that game in the end and they fell out of a place in the Champions League. In essence, I think this game could have been a catalyst. I don’t think Brendan was totally convinced of Maddison last season.
“There’s no doubt that Maddison was ahead of Grealish at some point, but suddenly Grealish has overtaken Maddison and is miles ahead of him.
“Grealish was a ‘Jack the lad’ a couple of seasons ago, but he lay down and was totally professional.
“If you look at the downside, Maddison needs to improve his game. Look at what Gareth Southgate thought of him with the English squad. He could have been part of the squad for the European Championship. He wasn’t there or there.” are reasons for it.
“This is a big season for James Maddison. We know he has the talent, he has to go out and prove it and pay Brendan Rodgers back.”
“Injuries slowed his progress”
James Maddison’s career was hampered by a number of injuries
Grealish moved to town for £ 100 million after becoming one of the faces of England’s trip to the Euro 2020 final, despite starting most of the games on the bench. Maddison has been linked to Arsenal this summer, but nothing has surfaced and over the weekend Rodgers dismissed the story as “gossip”.
After Leicester’s second Wembley win within a few months over Manchester City in the Community Shield Earlier this month, Rodgers admitted that Grealish may have retired from Maddison but helped his player recover from a difficult period in his career.
“I think they’re both close, they’re both very talented players,” Rodgers said. “But it was unfortunate for James; he suffered from a number of injuries that limited his progress.
“This is going to be a big year for him, trying to keep up with his fitness. You need a bit of luck there too.
“But you saw how hard he works for the team. You can see his quality and how he takes the ball, his eye for the last pass.
“He’s a wonderful talent. All he can do is play consistently at the highest level for Leicester and see where it takes him.”
“Whatever comes his way, he takes it with ease and deals with it”
Maddison began his career with his hometown club Coventry City
Setbacks have never been in short supply for Maddison, but especially not confidence. Like many in his generation, he did not make it easy in top football.
His career began at his hometown club Coventry City, where he made his debut at the age of 17, before moving to Norwich City and then on a brief loan in Scotland at Aberdeen, Leicester. He laid in the hard yards.
Richard Stevens knows Maddison better than most, having trained him as a boy at Coventry Academy. He now manages the offspring at West Bromwich Albion, but keeps in touch with his former player and monitors his progress.
“He’s never been the best coach,” Stevens told BBC Sport. “He’s always been driven, but he has worked on his skills since he was young, by the age of five, six or seven.
“Some of the smaller hurdles he’s faced in his career have shaped who he is today. He’s been on a top six Premier League team and has been for two years. The injuries he sustained came at a bad time; they “I stopped him from fighting for this English group over the summer.”
Though he had to wait to develop physically, Stevens says Maddison’s personality was a great equalizer. He was always at the center of everything.
“Whatever he was at 11, he’s still at 24,” continues Stevens. “He was tiny compared to his team-mates, but his character was as big as any of them and more. He was in a really good group, they were competitive and very tough with each other. Six of them even.” played for the Coventry first team, and that’s a big deal for an academy.
“They set the standard and James was right in the middle of it. He was the leader and the voice; he demanded everything go through him, but he was a team player.”
If ever there was a test of Maddison’s mental strength, it was as a teenager, when Stevens was reluctant to offer him a fellowship in Coventry. The doubts could have festered and grown, but it was his inner confidence that impressed the coach and the reason he believes Maddison can get back on track this season.
“James was one of the last ones in his age group I offered a contract,” laughs Stevens. “I wanted to keep him waiting because I knew he was hungry for it. There was no doubt that I would give him one. To this day I don’t know what I was thinking!
“Today you have to show your hand at the market; you can’t play this game like I did with James. He knew he was getting a contract, his family really supported him.
“He was an incredible talent, but you don’t know what football is doing. Not many young players were playing at the first team level back then. It was difficult to gauge how far he would go, but once he scored,” On the levels, which he completed as a 17-year-old, you knew that he would set his own limits.
“Whatever has come his way, he takes it calmly and deals with it. He has an incredible resilience. He has a skill and a mentality with which he can always reach the next level.
“He has a certain security. It’s not arrogance. He just understands that he has the tools to be successful. You can see that in his way of playing. Give him the ball anywhere on the court and he will try to make something happen. “
Maddison has to improve if he is to regain his uptrend. With that goal he showed his quality at Manchester City last year and he will believe he can come back stronger than ever.